2017 Book #36 – Highland Barbarian by Hannah Howell

51IxrMFU04L._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Highland Barbarian
Author: Hannah Howell
Date finished: 4/21/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: March 28, 2017 (Reprint)
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: The Murrays series book #13
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Sir Artan Murray was right when he decided that the dying old man who bid him collect his niece didn’t know her at all. The furious woman facing him is neither “sweet” nor “biddable.” She demands the brawny Highlander return her to the wedding party from which he took her. But Artan has no intention of allowing so spirited and bewitching a creature to endure a loveless marriage to a ruthless lord for her clan’s sake. He aims to woo the lass and to show her that true love also yields unforgettable pleasure. . .
Cecily Donaldson knows a bond forged by danger and desperation cannot endure. But Artan’s touch leaves her breathless, and she knows this to be her one chance to experience true passion before an arranged marriage seals her fate. Yet once begun, passion cannot be denied. . .nor can a love with the promise to change everything. . .

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Sir Artan Murray and Miss Cecily Donaldson. Artan’s foster father, Angus, who is as healthy as they come, takes to his bed and claims to be near death. His dying wish is that Artus go to the Lowlands and bring his niece Cecily to see him. With no other heirs, Angus also hopes that Artus will marry Cecily and inherit his estate. Cecily’s parents and brother died when she was young, leaving her under the care of her guardians, who are cousins of her father. Raised her whole life thinking she was a burden to her cousin’s family, Cecily is set to wed Sir Fergus Ogilvey at their request. But when Artus shows up two weeks before her wedding she starts to wake up and realize that this may not be the path she wants. And as she spends more time with Artus, she sees how little respect she’s been treated with over the years. Artus has been doing some observing of his own and he sees how abominably everyone seems to treat Cecily, who is the sweetest woman he’s ever met. And when he learns that Cecily’s guardians might have had a hand in her father and brother’s death, he knows that he has to get her back to Glascreag in order to keep her safe, whether she’s willing to come with him or not.
Overall I really liked this book. The plot was interesting and I loved the tension and the drama of the story. I especially liked Cecily’s character, she was fierce but also feminine and I just loved how fearless she was. And I loved the community that surrounded Cecily once she made it to the Highlands, it was touching to see that she had finally found the family she had always looked for. This was a sweet but fierce story and I liked it very much, I’d be interested to read other books by this author and in this series.

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, it was a good story and the heroine was fierce and amazing. I would love to read more in this series!

Link to author website

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2017 Book #32 – Hannah’s Moon by John A. Heldt

51bRO8XaIOLTitle: Hannah’s Moon
Author: John A. Heldt
Date finished: 4/12/17
Genre: Fiction, Time travel
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: February 8, 2017
Pages in book: 298
Stand alone or series: #5 in American Journey series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

After struggling for years to have a child, Claire Rasmussen, 34, turns to adoption, only to find new obstacles on the path to motherhood. Then she gets an unlikely phone call and soon learns that a distant uncle possesses the secrets of time travel. Within weeks, Claire, husband Ron, and brother David find themselves on a train to Tennessee and 1945, where adoptable infants are plentiful and red tape is short. For a time, they find what they seek. Then a beautiful stranger enters their lives, the Navy calls, and a simple, straightforward mission becomes a race for survival. Filled with suspense, romance, and heartbreak, HANNAH’S MOON, the epic conclusion of the American Journey series, follows the lives of four spirited adults as they confront danger, choices, and change in the tense final months of World War II.

My rating: 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Claire Rasmussen, who along with her husband, Ron, and brother, David, travel back in time to 1945 in order to adopt a baby. Claire and David’s uncle, Geoffrey Bell, guides them through the process and then, with his wife Jeanette, leaves them to their mission in 1945 while they go off to South America. Ron and Claire easily find a daughter available for adoption but they have to wait 3 months for the adoption to be final. During that time they befriend the woman living across the street, Margaret. David develops a particular attachment to her even though she is engaged to a Navy man. The plan is for Claire, Ron, their daughter Hannah, and David to head back through the portal as soon as the adoption goes through. But unfortunately fate is not that kind and there are not one but three major kinks thrown into their plans, all of which could keep them from returning at all.
Overall I liked this book. The plot line was really interesting for this one and had multiple things going on at once, which I liked. There were many points in this book that were moving and I thought the author did a great job of capturing the characters’ strength of emotions in those moments. Especially the pieces about Ron towards the end, there was a lot of tension and emotion in those moments that jumped out at me. The ending was interesting too because although it is the “finale” of the series I feel like it opens the door for a related series for future time travelers.

The bottom line: Overall I have enjoyed this series, and the time travel aspect in general is very interesting. There was some really good tension in this plot line, and there were some very emotionally touching parts as well. I would recommend, especially if you’ve enjoyed the other books in the series.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #30 – My One True Highlander by Suzanne Enoch

51EzZN-jfOLTitle: My One True Highlander
Author: Suzanne Enoch
Date finished: 4/4/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Pages in book: 319
Stand alone or series: #2 in the No Ordinary Hero series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

DARE TO FALL IN LOVE
Scotland, 1812—Rugged Highlander Graeme’s loyalty to his clan means that their enemies are his own—even when that includes his neighbor, the Duke of Lattimer. It’s a fight he doesn’t relish, but when Graeme’s reckless younger brothers foolishly kidnap Lattimer’s younger sister, all bets are off…
Lady Marjorie Forrester may be aligned with the enemy, but capturing her puts Graeme squarely in the middle of a war. If he turns Marjorie over to his clan chief, she could be killed. If he lets her go, his brothers could face prison. In addition, the woman can’t stop trying to civilize the lot of them! What’s a Highlander to do, then, but keep the stubborn lass close…and explore the unexpected passion that develops between them? But how can Graeme protect Marjorie and his brothers when both Lattimer and his own clan are on the warpath—and will do whatever it takes to tear these two star-crossed lovers apart, in My One True Highlander, the next No Ordinary Hero Scottish romance from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Enoch.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Lady Marjorie Forrester, sister to Gabriel Forrester from Book 1 in the series, No Ordinary Highlander. Lady Marjorie receives a letter from her brother informing her of his upcoming marriage, which he plans to celebrate with her in the spring when the weather has improved for traveling. Having missed out on most of their lives though with her brother being in the army and her being in boarding school, Marjorie decides this is one event she won’t be missing and immediately departs for the north. Unknown to her, she’s walking right into the middle of a clan war between the Maxwell clan and her brother’s newly established clan. Graeme Maxton is a laird who lives about 6 hours south of Gabriel. After his parents died when he was 20, he was left to raise his 3 younger brothers and also care for a whole herd of people. Maxwell usually ignores his existence, however his proximity to Gabriel has brought Graeme right into the crossfire of this clan war. And when his younger brothers kidnap Marjorie to try and “help,” Graeme then has to figure out what to do with her. And as Lady Marjorie spends more and more time with Graeme and his family, she finds herself fitting into this wild Highland place in a way she never expected.
Overall I really liked this book. I thought that Graeme was a really interesting character and he was so generous and thoughtful and just a great hero for this novel. And his youngest brother is just adorable and I loved the farm yard of pets that they have adopted into their household. While for some authors this plot line might have been unrealistic or unromantic or both, this author does a great job of making the whole thing seem less like Stockholm Syndrome and more like.. fate. The tension and the romance between the two main characters was just perfect. The book also had great supporting characters and plenty of drama with the clan war goings-on.

The bottom line: I really enjoyed this book, I always like a good historical romance novel! I would definitely recommend, especially if you enjoy Highlander novels.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #29 – Windswept by Sabrina Jeffries

51EBNNsn5ZLTitle: Windswept
Author: Sabrina Jeffries (Originally published under pen name Deborah Martin)
Date finished: 4/3/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: February 28, 2017 (Reprint, originally published April 1996)
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: #2 in (Reworked) Wales series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Originally written under the pseudonym Deborah Martin, this unforgettable tale of mystery, treasure, and passion is back in print at last and newly revised for today’s audience—and available as an ebook!
Welsh widow Catrin Price is haunted by a family death curse. Any man whom she marries without first drinking from an ancient Druid chalice sold by her ancestor long ago is unquestionably doomed. But when she hunts it down to purchase it, the chalice’s former owner ends up dead. Who will believe her innocent with the man’s treasure in her hands? Now she lives in fear of discovery, afraid to trust, afraid to give away her heart…
Even Newcome, a scholar struggling to overcome a difficult past, travels to Wales to find the mysterious woman last seen with his murdered friend. So when the lady proves to be a beautiful yet shy creature who shares his love of Welsh mythology, he’s torn between believing her guilty and trusting the passion blazing between them. But as unscrupulous men seek the chalice for their own devious purposes, will Catrin and Evan let their wall of mistrust stand between them? Or will they defeat their enemies together and embrace the love intended for them since time immemorial?

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Catrin Price, a widow who is a direct descendant of The Lady of the Mists and believed to be a witch. While having no supernatural powers, Catrin does believe that her family is under a curse from hundreds of years ago when The Lady of the Mist’s daughter wanted to marry an English merchant. Over the years Catrin’s family lost an important family heirloom, and when Catrin tries to get it back, Evan Newsome’s best friend is somehow murdered in the process. We met Evan in the last book, Stormswept, when he was a younger lad. Now Evan is all grown up and is determined to find out what happened to his friend that night. And so he hunts down The Lady of the Mists, only to discover that she is a beautiful and shy young woman. Determined to get answers without scaring her off, Evan decides to deceive her and gain her trust until he gets the truth out of her.
Overall I liked this book ok. Evan was kind of an ass in the first half of the book. And you can definitely tell that this book was from a different time period (it was originally printed in the mid-90’s) because Evan was not very good at respecting Catrin’s wishes when she said no. As the reader and knowing Catrin’s internal monologue as well its easy for the reader to see that she liked Evan and did actually want to, you know, kiss him and stuff but even still it got a little creepy at a couple points. Other than that though I liked the book a lot. The supernatural element always draws me in and the way the book ended was really great. This was a good book but it was a little outdated I think.

The bottom line: I liked this book. Catrin, like Julianna from book #1 in the series, was an immensely sweet, patient, and generous heroine. I liked Evan a lot, especially since we meet him as a young boy in book #1, Stormswept. You can tell this book is from a different era though, as Evan was a bit heavy-handed and heard “yes” a lot of the time when Catrin was saying “no.” Other than that issue, I found the book to be engaging and heartfelt. I would recommend it but with a caution that you will be annoyed by certain points in the book.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #28 – Stormswept by Sabrina Jeffries

51r+upTVeTLTitle: Stormswept
Author: Sabrina Jeffries (Originally published under pen name Deborah Martin)
Date finished: 3/30/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: June 28, 2016 (Reprint, originally published July 1995)
Pages in book: 401
Stand alone or series: #1 in (Reworked) Wales series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

New York Times bestseller Sabrina Jeffries reignites a daring love affair in this intriguing tale of desire and deception—originally written as Deborah Martin and newly revised for today’s audience.
The first wedding night that Lady Juliana St. Albans spent with the dark and daring Rhys Vaughan was intoxicating, the heady culmination of her new husband’s driving hunger and her own awakened sensuality. When he mysteriously disappeared the next morning, she waited for him in hope and desperation. And when he was finally proclaimed dead in a shipwreck, she bitterly mourned the loss of her love.
The second wedding night that Juliana spent with Rhys Vaughan was six years later, after he returned to claim her just as she was about to wed another. This Rhys was different—bolder, harder, and convinced that she’d betrayed him. Only their blazing passion remains from their years apart. But is it enough to light their way through the maze of mystery, menace, and mistrust—to the love they once shared and would have to find again?

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Juliana St. Albans, who falls in love with Rhys Vaughan. Juliana is the daughter of an earl and Rhys is the son of a squire, and their match is an unusual one. It is made even more unusual due to the fact that Juliana’s father recently took ownership of Rhys’s father’s estate after winning it in a game of cards. Nothing can keep these two apart though, so despite the evidence that they should be enemies they decide to run away together and get married. Only on the night of their wedding (after it though) Juliana’s brothers kidnap Rhys and force him (through impressment which apparently was an actual thing) to join the Navy. After 7 long years, Juliana decides that its time to give up hope and re-marry, and that’s when Rhys comes waltzing back in. Not to save the day though! To punish Juliana for “her part” in his impressment. But still despite the odds, neither Juliana nor Rhys can deny the attraction between them. Can they resolve the issues of their past in order to move forward though?
Overall I liked this book ok. Juliana was such a lovable character and I really admired how patient and forgiving she was. At the same time I thought Rhys was pretty pig-headed and not as appealing as I’d hoped. And the plot line, while riveting, was slightly horrifying. I can’t believe that impressment was something that was actually allowed to happen. And while they are still her brothers, I can’t believe that after her brother had her husband literally banished and then lied to her about it that she could even say that a relationship could attempt to be repaired. I would’ve just been like “Bye have a nice life you suck.” If you can get past those couple pieces though and overlook the glaring awfulness that happened to Rhys, this book was pretty good.

The bottom line: I liked this book, Juliana was an immensely sweet, patient, and generous heroine. I wasn’t a huge fan of Rhys or the plot for the most part (impressment sounds barbaric) but I still found the book to be engaging and heartfelt. I would recommend it but with a caution that you will be frustrated/saddened by certain points in the book.

Link to author website

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2017 Books #18-25 – Tough Justice series

51xOPnG8JdLTitle: Tough Justice series: Exposed (1), Watched (2), Burned (3), Trapped (4), Twisted (5), Ambushed (6), Betrayed (7), and Hunted (8)
Author: Carla Cassidy, Tyler Anne Snell, Carol Ericson, Gail Barrett
Date finished: 3/23/17
Genre: Fiction, crime, detective
Publisher: Harlequin Special Releases
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Pages in book: 649
Stand alone or series: Series, 8 books in the set
Where I got the book from: Harlequin Romance Insiders NOTE: I received this book for free from Harlequin in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Special Agent Lara Grant has finally put her life as an undercover agent in the Moretti gang behind her and started a new assignment in New York City. Until a dramatic sniper attack leaves Lara’s face — and real name — all over the media. In the blink of an eye, her cover is blown, her identity exposed.
Then a woman’s body is found, branded with the ritual Moretti tattoo. Someone knows who Lara is…and exactly how to make her pay…

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This is an 8 part series about FBI Special Agent Laura Grant. Laura recently went undercover within the Moretti crime syndicate and was able to make it all the way to the top, arresting Moretti and cutting the head off this particular snake. The undercover operation took a lot out of her though, more than she can really admit to anyone, especially her new team with the FBI. Her new partner Nick Delano doesn’t realize how badly scarred Lara is after this last assignment, but his sexy good looks bring her aroung to trusting him in the end. And when Moretti starts coordinating attacks on/near Lara from inside prison, Lara’s whole team must come together to put a stop to it.
Overall I liked this series. The plot line for this series was so interesting and there were some great plot twists. Some of the plot twists I kind of saw coming but they were still really good. I also thought it was really great that even though the series was written by 4 different authors it was still a cohesive story line and the plot line flowed well in between the books. That being said there were some things I didn’t love about the books. There were some holes in the story line and things that were introduced with the other characters that I’m not sure if they’re supposed to lead to another series or if they were just not followed up on. Also, similar to my issue with Rizzoli from The Surgeon series, I didn’t like that Lara was so insecure but also thought she was the coolest thing at the same time. And she broke some rules along the way which I also didn’t like. And her life was just so sad, the last book especially was heart-breaking. I still really liked the series overall though, it was an easy read (the books were shorter than a normal size book and the chapters were nice and short) and I would recommend it.

The bottom line: I liked this series, though the conclusion of it wasn’t my favorite. The series itself though was very interesting and had some great plot twists. I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #17 – The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

510KMAZR9FL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Surgeon
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Date finished: 3/15/17
Genre: Fiction, mystery, thriller
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: August 21, 2001
Pages in book: 356
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Rizzoli & Isles series
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

In her most masterful novel of medical suspense, New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen creates a villain of unforgettable evil–and the one woman who can catch him before he kills again.
He slips into their homes at night and walks silently into bedrooms where women lie sleeping, unaware of the horrors they soon will endure. The precision of the killer’s methods suggests he is a deranged man of medicine, propelling the Boston newspapers and the frightened public to name him “The Surgeon.”
The cops’ only clue rests with another surgeon, the victim of a nearly identical crime. Two years ago, Dr. Catherine Cordell fought back and killed her attacker before he could complete his assault. Now she hides her fears of intimacy behind a cool and elegant exterior and a well-earned reputation as a top trauma surgeon.
Cordell’s careful facade is about to crack as this new killer recreates, with chilling accuracy, the details of Cordell’s own ordeal. With every new murder he seems to be taunting her, cutting ever closer, from her hospital to her home. Her only comfort comes from Thomas Moore, the detective assigned to the case. But even Moore cannot protect Cordell from a brilliant hunter who somehow understands–and savors–the secret fears of every woman he kills.
Filled with the authentic detail that is the trademark of this doctor turned author . . . and peopled with rich and complex characters–from the ER to the squad room to the city morgue–here is a thriller of unprecedented depth and suspense. Exposing the shocking link between those who kill and cure, punish and protect, The Surgeon is Tess Gerritsen’s most exciting accomplishment yet.

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (March). This book tells the story of a homicide case under investigation in Boston, MA. Some crazy person is running around murdering women and cutting out their uteruses, and Detective Moore and Rizzoli is one of the people assigned to the case. Through their research, Moore and his team come to discover that this exact MO was also unique to a string of murders in Savannah, GA. And the only person to survive that murderer is now living in Boston. Rizzoli feels outnumbered as a woman on the force and feel like she has a lot to prove, so she’s determined to solve this case and put a win in her column, whatever it takes.
Overall I didn’t especially like this book. I thought Rizzoli was a total jerk and didn’t like her character at all. I felt like she was just whining the whole book and her surliness was way past tolerable. I’m all for the underdog but she put herself and her whole team in danger repeatedly. She kept complaining how she was better than everyone else but didn’t get the recognition because she was a woman but to be honest she didn’t seem all that better than everyone else to me. I didn’t understand how one character could be so insecure and so full of themselves at the same time. Also the conversations and other interactions between the characters seemed stilted and forced to me. The tension in this book, which I would have expected to be high due to the sick and twisted nature of the killer, just wasn’t there for me and I found it hard to work up any kind of emotion towards the plot. The mystery itself was good, if somewhat predictable. I enjoyed the plot twists though and found myself somewhat engaged in that piece of the story at least. If you like detective shows or novels then this book might work for you but it just feel flat for me.

The bottom line: I didn’t care for this book very much. The mystery plot line was alright but I hated Rizzoli as a character and the conversations and interaction between the characters was pretty stilted. I have heard this is a popular series but I personally didn’t enjoy this one.

Link to author website

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